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San José Mayor, Vice Mayor, and Councilmembers Call for Immediate Emergency Housing to Combat COVID-19

Housing needed for COVID-19 positive and exposed residents living in overcrowded housing, encampments, shelters

Post Date:04/06/2020
April 6, 2020


Media Contact: Rachel Davis, Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo, 408.712.9149,

SAN JOSE, CA. - Today, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo, Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, and Councilmembers Raul Peralez and Dev Davis called for the city to allocate more than $17 million to fund immediate emergency housing for COVID-19 positive and exposed residents who cannot currently self-quarantine, either because they live in overcrowded housing, at shelters, or in homeless encampments. Mayor Liccardo also called for the City Manager and City Attorney to ensure that the city is able to act expeditiously for emergency housing.

“We have a unique opportunity to be aggressive in building emergency housing if we are able to move nimbly and decisively,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic makes the living situations of our homeless residents, in encampments and crowded shelters, far more perilous. Rapid construction of emergency housing—with the opportunity of FEMA reimbursement—is utterly imperative during this crisis.” 

As part of the Shelter Crisis Declaration, Mayor Liccardo, Vice Mayor Jones, and Councilmembers Peralez and Davis propose redirecting $17 million in state homelessness funding towards the lease, purchase, or construction of immediate emergency housing, including prefabricated modular units that have been used in past disasters. Additionally, the Mayor announced private sector leaders have volunteered their expertise in the rapid acquisition or construction of emergency housing. 
Mayor Liccardo called for the City Manager and City Attorney to clarify what the city can do under a Shelter Crisis Declaration, including bypassing procurement processes, waiving permit and land-use restrictions, and removing existing barriers at the state, regional, and local levels to rapidly build emergency housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the Mayor and Council marshall efforts to house our most vulnerable, the proposal explores establishing a federal partnership by tapping into Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement funds (typically 75 percent of emergency costs) and applying new FEMA guidance for non-congregate sheltering to emergency housing in the city of San José. The State of California would in this case of FEMA partial reimbursement likely reimburse some portion of the remaining 25 percent of the cost.
The Mayor and Councilmembers’ call-to-action utilizes Governor Gavin Newsom’s March 18 Executive Order that provides local flexibility to erect emergency housing funded through the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program (HHAP), specifically waiving CEQA requirements for such housing.  
The City Council will consider the proposals at the City Council meeting, Tuesday, April 7.
The memoranda can be found here and here
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